Fire Alarm Cable
About Fire Alarm Cable
When disaster strikes, the systems designed to respond must be up to the challenge. They can’t have cables that melt at the first sign of heat or experience interruption in tough conditions. That’s why fire alarm wire is built tough, from materials like copper that can be trusted during these critical moments. It can withstand the conditions of a fire and send information throughout the alarm system quickly and reliably, whether you’re using traditional or more advanced detectors and alarms.
What Are Fire Alarm Cables?
Fire alarm cables can be used in a wide array of systems, ranging from conventional alarms to more complex addressable arrangements. They are a critical component in the protection of commercial facilities everywhere, connecting control panels, detectors, and alarms in one system.
These units are AC powered, and the fire alarm cable is designed to ensure that if one alarm goes off, the others do too. Fire alarm cable is available as a shielded or unshielded cable, so you can choose the right kind based on the amount of electromagnetic interference (EMI).
Fire alarm cables are manufactured in riser and plenum styles. FPLR (Fire Power Limited Riser) comes in unshielded or shielded at a much lower cost than the plenum version. FPLR cable has the word “riser” in it because it’s used in fire alarms, signal monitors, and audio control circuits where the cable is rising only. FPLP (Fire Power Limited Plenum) cables are used in installations overhead in the plenum for fire protection reasons. Plenum cables withstand flame better than riser cables and need to be used in those applications.
Both riser fire alarm cables and plenum fire alarm cables come in shielded and unshielded versions which may be needed depending on the application. We also stock contractor-grade fire alarm cables in shielded, unshielded, riser and plenum, which only comes in a red jacket with solid copper conductors. Please call for pricing on our contractor-grade material.
Fire Alarm Cable Applications
A fire alarm cable is a multi-conductor electronic cable. The variations are PVC, plenum, shielded, and unshielded which automatically puts this cable in at least four types of different applications. Standard ways of asking for it would be fire alarm cable, shielded fire alarm cable, FPLR cable, and FPLP cable which stands for Riser and Plenum.
FPLR is a riser fire alarm cable with a PVC jacket and solid copper conductors. This would be the cheaper version because it can’t be used in as many applications as the plenum cable. Common applications for both plenum and non-plenum cables are smoke alarms and detectors, voice communications, addressable fire alarm systems, microprocessor controlled systems, pull boxes, burglar alarms, wiring of fire alarms, and fire protective circuits. It comes in American wire gauge (AWG) sizes 22 through 18 in as many conductors as our 12-in riser and plenum wires. It usually comes in a red-colored outer jacket.
FPLP is used in ducts and enclosed air spaces where fire can spread easily. The plenum jacket won’t allow the fire to spread throughout the entire air duct system creating an even bigger problem than the fire itself. Both the FPLR and FPLP come in a shielded and unshielded version, with shielding making the cable slightly more expensive.
Some of the questions you want to ask yourself before buying any type of electronic wire and cable are:
- Will it be used indoors or outdoors?
- Does the jacket meet the temperature rating needed?
- Does it need a shield?
- Does it need to have fire protection?
All electronic cables and fire alarm cables are manufactured with solid copper conductors so they all carry current in the same way. The things you need to worry about having to do with the insulation and whether it has a high enough temperature rating to not melt in the insulation or if it needs outdoor weather protection. These things can puncture the insulation and short the connection by hitting the copper wire which could cost a lot of money to fix.
Call us to talk about your application to be sure you have everything you need. We can also help make sure you’re not buying far more protection than you need so you don’t pay any more money than you have to.
4 Types of Fire Alarm Cable
When choosing the right cable for your application, you first need to understand and compare all of your options. Each type of cable is more suited for specific environments, and using the wrong one could be dangerous.
1. FPLR Cable
FPLR is the cheapest of the bunch because it’s the most basic. When you don’t need a shield or plenum insulation you go with a riser fire alarm cable that gets installed vertically, hence “riser.” These cables come in sizes 22 AWG through 12 AWG with two, four, six or eight possible conductors.
2. FPLR Shielded Cable
FPLR shielded fire alarm cables include an aluminum polyester foil shield over the conductors to protect against interference. A foil shield is the only type of shield offered in standard riser alarm cables. If you need a braid shield or foil/braid shield you will need to wait about 4-6 weeks and purchase about 20,000 feet.
3. FPLP Cable
FPLP cables are plenum rated for horizontal overhead installations. Plenum cables can be installed in plenum which is where the name came from. You’ll notice that plenum cables are much more expensive than riser cables because of the additional engineering and protection they offer. They’re both offered in similar sizes because the amount of copper, or current, doesn’t change when the insulation changes.
4. FPLP Shielded Cable
FPLP shielded fire alarm cables also include an aluminum polyester foil shield over the conductors to block interference. Sometimes there are a few cables running next to each other in plenum and need shielding to block interference between one another. However, if the cable is installed by itself it shouldn’t need a shield.
Fire Alarm Cable Attributes
Fire alarm cable is a term in the wire and cable industry to describe the approved cable for fire alarm systems. First things first, fire alarm cable should be fire-resistant so that the cable doesn’t malfunction during a fire. Environmental conditions strongly come into play when engineers design a cable. The cable must be able to resist all that it comes in contact with or it’s deemed useless.
Other ways to differentiate your fire alarm wire include the following.
1. Riser and Plenum Rating
Use riser fire alarm cable when installations run vertically in the walls of a home or building. Use plenum fire alarm cable when installations run horizontally above in duct or plenum. Both of the ratings come with an option of a foil shield to block EMI. You’ll need to make sure you choose the correct cable for installations because if you don’t, you may fail inspection after all of your hard work. Using the right kind is critical for meeting building code requirements.
2. Known for its Acronyms
As mentioned, fire alarm cable is also known as FPLR and FPLP, which help standardize the buying process and make it easier to find what you need. Typically, people using these cables ask for FPLR or FPLP shielded or unshielded. And at that point, all you need to state is the quantity you need for your application. They’re commonly stocked in 1000′ pull boxes, but some suppliers will cut into the box if you ask.
3. Red Jacket
Fire alarm cables are manufactured with a red jacket unless otherwise specified. There are other color options available, but when a second or third electrician visits the same home for repairs, it’s easier for them to spot the fire alarm cables because of their red jacket. It improves the visibility of these important wires and ensures that anyone working with them knows what they are.
Fire Alarm Wire for Sale at WesBell Electronics
At WesBell Electronics, we carry all of these types of fire alarm wire so you can find exactly what you need. Our FPLR and FPLP cables come in a wide range of sizes for any project requirement, and we can help you find the perfect one for your designs. Our fire alarm wire prices are competitive, too, so you don’t need to break the bank for quality supplies.
We also offer several wire processing services, such as cutting cables to length, tin-dipping the conductors, and removing outer jackets on the ends. With these services, we can help you reduce the time spent preparing your wires for use after you receive them. If time is a priority, we can help.
WesBell products come with the benefit of experts behind the scenes. Our knowledgeable staff can assist with almost any step in the process to buy fire alarm wire online. We’re happy to answer any questions you have about electronic cables, hook up wire, and industrial power cables. Contact us today for more information!